Plucky pensioner scares off burglar

Rev Robert Harkness. INNT 24-071-FP
Rev Robert Harkness. INNT 24-071-FP
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A Mallusk pensioner has said a would-be robber who broke into his home was “lucky” to escape before he got a hold of him.

On Friday night (May 31), retired Presbyterian minister Robert Harkness was startled by a scream from his 83-year-old wife just before 10pm.

When the 84-year-old went to the living room he found his wife being confronted by a man wielding a crowbar he had used to break into the kitchen door of their Mallusk Road property.

“ I just went for him,” said Rev Harkness. “He had a crowbar raised over his head and my first thought was for my wife. I didn’t want any harm to come to her.

“It all happened in an instant, but I was quick and just took off for him. But one of the footstools in the room was in the way and I stumbled over it and when I looked up he was gone.

“It’s lucky I didn’t get anywhere near him.”

The man was last seen making off from the Cottonmount Arms pub car park in a small red car, possibly a Rover.

Rev. Harkness is a former minister at Sinclair Seamen’s Presbyterian Church in Belfast and has lived in Mallusk for almost 20 years. Friday’s incident is the third time the family have been targeted over the years.

He added: “It’s terrible to hear about burglaries on people’s homes, especially if they are pensioners living on their own.

“They have no brains, sure I am just a clergyman and would have no money in the house and my wife is not a jewellery person, so what could they have got?

“But it might not follow that the person is from a bad home. They may have taken a wrong turn or a bad decision and are just in need of some help.

“For us, it’s no big thing, we can’t let it get to us. I think if you dwell on it, then you let them win.”

The Harkness family have sinced increased the security measures around their home and police have stepped-up patrols around the village following a number of similar incidents.

Police in Newtownabbey have appealed for witnesses, or anyone with information to contact them on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively information about crime can be passed to the Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.